Another Poem about Trauma, Written by a Friend

I have another poem, given here in an improvised prose-poem, paragraph form, about the writer’s experience of trauma and the painful memories associated with it. Translated from Dutch and written by my friend, Gerda Hovius, it’s called “Be Mindful of the Superego”:

I can be so anxious about grief. A mess of feelings that throw me back into old pain and shame. I can sometimes feel sad and that is a natural feeling, as a child I was always alone with my sadness and was rejected and reviled for it. So what did I do, keeping the grief in out of fear, until it floods and then that feeling came back of not being good enough that nobody cares about me, that I have to do everything alone. Now after 41 years I know that if I am sad and that voice comes up, that is the inner criticism the superego that has formed in my small developing child’s brain, and then I can name it, emotions are of course nothing that need to be feared, I may cry that is not wrong, a natural process of the body, there is no shame in sorrow.

And now, my analysis of her writing.

Trauma, grief, and anxiety sure do make up “a mess of feelings,” a mess that’s hard to process and clean up. We sufferers of childhood trauma by definition tend to find ourselves alone with our sadness, “rejected and reviled” whenever we try to give voice to our pain. What else can we do, but cope by “keeping the grief in out of fear”?

We cannot keep the pain inside forever, though, or else “it floods.” We have to let it out somehow, and that’s why I encourage everybody out there to write something like this, and I’ll read it, publish it, and analyze it to help you process those feelings as best I can. We all have those feelings when we think we aren’t good enough, and that nobody cares for us, so in these posts, I’ll try to help mitigate those bad feelings for you. You don’t have to feel you must do everything alone.

What makes us still feel these bad feelings, even years after getting away from our abusers? Our inner critic, that harsh superego that is an amalgam of all those internal objects of our abusive caregivers from our early years. When we can “name it,” that is, find the right words to express our trauma, we won’t need to be so afraid of those feelings.

As Gerda says, “there is no shame in sorrow.” What you write doesn’t have to be of Shakespearean, high literary quality. Just let out your feelings in writing, and if you like, I’ll share it here and give you validation by interpreting your meaning. Peace and love! 🙂

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